ANDREW GILES MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING THE MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
MEMBER FOR SCULLIN
SENATOR CAROL BROWN
ASSISTANT SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND REGIONAL TOURISM
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TASMANIA
SENATOR FOR TASMANIA
SUBJECTS: Visa privatisation; jobs crisis; population policy.
ANDREW GILES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS: I'm Andrew Giles, Labor's Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs and I'm in Hobart today with my colleague and friend Carol Brown and also Zac Batchelor from the CPSU. I've been here attending the FECCA conference just behind us, which has been a great gathering of five hundred multicultural leaders coming together in Hobart to talk about issues of concern and also opportunities. One of things people are concerned about and we are too is this month due to make a decision, a decision about privatising Australia's visa processing services. This is a decision that Minister Dutton just won't talk about, perhaps because Liberal donors are closely connected to the bids. This is a decision that has huge impacts on jobs. 2,000 jobs will be lost Australia-wide if this goes ahead, 100 of them here in Hobart. I've had the opportunity and the privilege to chat to some of the people that do the work and understand how important the work they do is and how proud they are of it. What we need is a government that supports our public services, and particularly when it comes to these core functions which prevent workers from being exploited and keep our data safe and control whom comes into this country and the circumstances and conditions which we impose upon them. It's even more concerning that we've had revelations come out that the consortiums that may win this bid may have monopoly power that may engage in outrageous profiteering - the sort of things the Prime Minister condemned of the banks. If this decision goes ahead it could have severe consequences for anyone that uses these services. So we're here today to draw attention to the fact that there 100 jobs in Hobart that are at risk as a result of visa privatisation. Of course there's a jobs crisis going on in Tasmania at the moment and Carol Brown will talk about that.
SENATOR CAROL BROWN: Thank you Andrew - Andrew is right - there is a jobs crisis here in Tasmania. Just last week we heard that 600 net jobs were lost in Tasmania and now another jobs blow with the announcement that Vodafone will shed about 130 Hobart jobs. What we know about Vodafone is that they received money from the Federal and State governments - on the basis that they would retain about 700 jobs in their Hobart call centre.
There are a lot of questions and no answers as yet, we and the workers would like to know what exactly the Premier is doing in terms of ensuring that the workers are looked after. So what we've got is one jobs blow after another. Also we potentially have another 100 jobs to do with visa processing that are at risk of leaving Hobart. People are relying on these jobs, we have a high unemployment rate Tasmania and a very high underemployment rate. So what are the Liberals' doing to support jobs in Hobart?
JOURNALIST: The jobs side of the visa issue is one side of it, but do you have concerns about privatising that process?
GILES: We do, we think this is a core function of government. This Liberal Government talks a lot about keeping our borders secure, but seems to want to outsource that to private companies. We think it's a core function of government to decide who comes into Australia and any conditions we impose upon them. We know this is really concerning because we've heard story after story of exploitation of vulnerable workers at the moment. We've seen a blowout of bridging visas and a crisis in terms of citizenship delays as well. What we need is a government that takes its responsibilities seriously and tidy up these issues rather than handballing it to the private sector, which is only interested in making a profit.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask you, Scott Morrison announced that he wanted to see more people settling in regional and rural areas of Australia, rather than focusing Sydney and Melbourne. Do you know where that is at, and what does Labor think of that idea?
GILES: We understand that there has been a series of announcements made about this but very little detail and guess this shows a lot about the Prime Minister who knows a lot about marketing and not so good about governing. We know there have been plans about getting people to move to the regions and in principal we think that's a good idea. We know that requires jobs and also for many migrants there needs to be appropriate settlement services. What we are concerned about is that the government has made announcements about population but has no real plan, hasn't put in the infrastructure in place to make this work. We talk about the Tasmanian jobs crisis today and it hasn't done enough work to create and maintain good jobs in the regions.
JOURNALIST: So not enough work to create those jobs to make it a good plan to bring more migrants to Tasmania?
GILES: We'd love to see more jobs coming to Tasmania, I'd like to see a strong Tasmania. But a plan to get migrants to the regions needs to be more than just a press release. It's got to involve listening to the community and ensuring that there are good long-term stable jobs and I see very little evidence of that from the Morrison Government.